The ongoing post-election hysteria is becoming deeply, deeply embarrassing. Take, by way of example, the much-publicized claims being made by this guy, a professor at Rutgers University who was visited by police after he tweeted that he want to run Trump voters off the road and/or to shoot randomly at white people.
NYPD just came to my house bc Rutgers Police told them i’m a threat based on political statements i’ve made on campus and on twitter.— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) November 16, 2016
ok. they let me leave. this is a shitshow and is proof positive that Trump’s crackdown on free speech has absolutely begun.— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) November 16, 2016
You see? Trump only won eight days ago and already his administration is cracking down on — wait, what? Leave to one side whether Allred’s speech was protected by the First Amendment (I tend toward “yes,” and, even if it’s not, think the police should be circumspect), and focus instead on his central implication: To wit, that what happened to him today was, “proof positive,” the work of Donald Trump. That’s prima facie ridiculous. For a start, Trump isn’t president yet, and won’t be until January 20th. And, more important, the President of the United States doesn’t run local police departments.
Terminally silly people such as the Guardian’s Jessica Valenti have shared Allred’s story as if it were akin to Kristallnacht (always missing out, it should be noted, that Allred didn’t “discuss” the Second Amendment so much as suggest that he might shoot people). “It begins,” Valenti wrote, dramatically.
But what “begins” exactly? Rutgers is in four towns in New Jersey: Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, and Piscataway. Every single one of them has a Democratic mayor. The NYPD, meanwhile, is under the control of Democrat Bill DeBlasio, who is not only an outspoken socialist but who spoke out against Trump as recently as this morning. Are we seriously to believe that these figures are secretly taking law enforcement instructions from, or on behalf of, a man a) whom they loathe, and b) who has no authority whatsoever over their affairs? Of course not. Indeed, DeBlasio himself has been quick to note that the federal government doesn’t run local policing:
I want all NYC residents to know: federal gov’t can’t tell us how to police our streets. We are not going back to overuse of stop-and-frisk.— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) November 16, 2016
As I documented throughout the campaign, there are a host of good reasons for free-speech lovers to be wary of Donald Trump. But this isn’t one of them — not in any universe. If we continue to see this nonsense peddled day in and day out, when Trump really does cross the line it seems possible that nobody will be listening.